These past few weeks have been filled with new adventures of every kind, including visits to some historic universities. Namely: Oxford and Cambridge. Upon visiting these universities (and through studying at King’s College London) I have found that there are a lot of differences to be found between U.S. and UK universities.
The difference that takes the most getting used to is the structure of the universities themselves. For instance, I attend Michigan Technological University in the U.S. Within this school there are many different colleges: the college of engineering, the college of arts and sciences, etc. As you may expect, the biggest difference between these colleges is really the name as they are all housed on the same campus. However, in the UK those different colleges have their own majors, their own faculty, and even their own campuses!
The University of Oxford has 38 different colleges (so if you’re going to visit, pick your top 5!) and Cambridge has 31! King’s College London (where I currently study) is one of 18 different colleges that make up the University of London. Although this structure can be confusing at first, the diversity of experiences it provides makes it an excellent system.
Of course, the structure of the colleges isn’t the only interesting thing about them. All three of the universities I mentioned above bring a large amount of history along with them. Cambridge houses a descendant of Newton’s apple tree, Christ Church College in Oxford is famous for being used as a filming location in Harry Potter, and King’s College London boasts often of their many successful graduates, including Desmond Tutu. Be prepared to leave each university a little smarter as the knowledge and history in the air is almost tangible.